December 2008 Archives

All Things Two Thousand And Eight

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In 2008 I....

1.  started a blog.
2.  celebrated the 30th anniversary of my birth.
3.  made more trips to Home Depot than I could have ever anticipated.
4.  learned I could do things I never thought I could -- like paint 4 rooms in my house and remove wallpaper.
5.  saved some money.  Not as much as I would have liked, but I think I did well saving at all the first year in my first home.
6.  learned what rhubarb was.  And learned how to make one helluva strawberry-rhubarb pie, if I do say so myself.
7.  had minor skin surgery on my right forearm.
8.  traveled to somewhere I had never been before -- Rhode Island.
9.  started seeing a reproductive endocrinologist
10. finally got my passport.  Still haven't traveled anywhere requiring one.  Maybe next year?
11. celebrated two year anniversary with The Boy.  Longest relationship to date.
12. survived the first year in my first home, which taught me a ton -- from gardening to home repair.

So that was 2008 for me.  The important milestones, anyway.  The list doesn't seem to terribly long or exciting, but overall, 2008 was a really good year for me.  I think I will dub 2008 The Year of the House.

I am excited and curious to see what 2009 will bring!

Erin's Guide To Wallpaper Removal

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I have learned a lot about how to remove wallpaper over the last few days.  You may want to check out my previous post, Current Home Improvement Projects, to read about and view some pictures of the fun I had trying to remove some very stubborn wallpaper from my guest bedroom. 

I'd like to share my newly gained knowledge with you all now, in order to spare you from the same pain that I just went through. 

First do a test and see how easily the paper comes off.  You may be lucky and have the strippable kind that pretty much just peels right off.  If so, yay!  Your job will be very easy.  Buy a scoring tool and some wallpaper removal spray gel.  Score, spray, wait 15 minutes, and peel away.

Hopefully there are not too many people out there with the old school, non strippable wallpaper still up in their house, but if you happen to be one of them, hopefully the following wallpaper removal tips will help you.


drop cloth
paint roller
liquid wallpaper stripper
5" or 6" joint knife for scraping
5 gallon bucket
fabric softener
baking soda


1.  If the very top layer of the paper peels off easily, then first peel all of that off. 
2.  Mix the following solution together:
  • 3 gallons of very hot water
  • wallpaper stripping solution from your local home store such as Lowes or Home Depot.  Make sure it is the kind that is meant to be mixed with water.  Make sure it mentions the word enzyme on the label.
  • 1/4 Tablespoon liquid fabric softener
  • 2 Tablespoons Baking Soda
3.  Cover the floor with some sort of tarp or cloth. 
4.  Use a paint roller to apply the solution to the wall.  Apply liberally.  Very liberally.
5.  Wait 15-20 minutes.
6.  Repeat step 3.
7.  Wait another 15-20 minutes.
8.  Repeat step 3 again.
9.  Wait yet another 15-20 minutes.
10.  Use the scraping tool to scrape off the paper.
11.  After the paper is removed, use a white vinegar (1 cup) and water (1 gallon) solution to wash down the walls.
12.  Send me an email letting me know you used this process and how well it worked for you.  Also, send pictures!


I recommend using a 5 gallon bucket to keep the solution in.  It works well for dipping the roller.

I also recommend trying this method on a strip or two before doing the entire room to see how well it works.  You may find you need to tweak the process for your specific project.  Find what works before you go too far or waste too much time and effort.

Yes, you must apply the solution 3 times.  You could try to get away with doing it once or twice but this did not work for me.  Just do it 3 times, ok?  It is well worth the extra time.  Can't stress this enough.

Yes, you must wait 15-20 minutes after each application.  It takes time for the ingredients to work their magic.  Have patience.

Do not use a spray bottle to apply.  The roller works much better.

You may need to use a sponge to get the very top where the wall meets the ceiling.  It's hard to get that area covered well with a roller.

Additional suggestion would be do do one wall at a time rather that try to do the entire thing at once.  This is what I did, but really was just personal preference.

Good luck!

Related Posts:
Current Home Improvement Projects
Nearly Complete Decorated Guest Bedroom

Current Home Improvement Projects

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There are two home improvement projects I am trying to complete within the next month. 

1.  Remove wallpaper and paint guest bedroom. 

I removed the wallpaper in the spare room this past August.  It was much easier than I was expecting.  Smooth sailing.  So when I started this one last night I was expected it to be much the same.  Boy was I wrong.  It did not go well.  See exibits A-C below.  It took about 5 hours, maybe more, to accomplish what you see in the pictures.  The stupid paper WOULD NOT COME OFF.  It was like it had become part of the wall.  The very top layer of the paper peeled right off.  The rest came off in shredded little pieces.  This is going to take forever.  It might be New Year's Day 2010 before I am done.

Exibit A

Exibit B

Exibit C

2.  Replace the blinds in the bedrooms. 

I'd like to replace all the old, semi-broken, dirty mini blinds in the bedrooms with room darkening shades.  I was originally going to go with the cellular blinds with no string but they were much to expensive for my non-standard size windows.


What was the most recent home improvement project you've done?  What do you plan to do next?

The Condition

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I've finally finished reading the book my sister gave me for my birthday at the end of September.  I do enjoy reading, I am just very, very slow. 

There is a special reason my sister picked this book for me.  The title of the book, The Condition, refers to the medical condition of the middle child in the family the book follows.  The condition referred to by the title is Turner Syndrome, which I also have.  I have written about my personal experience of living with this syndrome which, thankfully, was different in many ways from the character Gwen's.  I am nearly 5'2" tall and went through puberty with the aid of hormone injections and pills.  Gwen was not so lucky.

I liked this book, but would probably not consider it one of my top 5.  It does, however hold a special place in my heart due to the fact that one of the characters has the same medical condition that I do.  It is the first novel I've ever read, and the only one in existence to my knowledge, with a character with my syndrome.  It is not extremely rare, but I have never met anyone else with it.  That being said, I may have met someone and just not known it.  After all, to look at me or to speak with me you would have no idea I had a chromosomal abnormality.

The book does not really have a main character, but it bounces back and forth highlighting each of the 5 members of the family.  Each of the five members has their own problems and issues.  It sort of made me think, "Is every family as messed up as this one?"  My favorite parts, not surprisingly, were those that revolved around Gwen and how she, and those around her, dealt with the effects of Turner Syndrome. 

In the end everything was wrapped up neat and tidy with a bow on top.  All the characters eventually came to terms with their issues and everything was resolved.  The gay son came out to the rest of the family who were very accepting.  The 'loser' son left the job he hated and the wife everyone hated.  Gwen married and was very happy in her life.  I must say, it was nice for me to read how confident and well adjusted Gwen, whom the book follows from early childhood through her mid thirties, finally became as an adult.

Healthy Eating

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While visiting with my family, a discussion got started regarding healthy eating. 

I have always been of the philosophy that you should be able to eat pretty much anything you want.  You should not deprive yourself of anything.  The key is moderation.  You want chocolate chip cookies?  Fine.  Just don't eat them every night.  And eat 2, not 6. 

Two of my siblings highly disagree with this.  They are of the opposite philosophy.  In order to lose weight you MUST cut out certain things and deprive yourself.  We had lasagna for dinner the other night.  I had the smallest portion of anyone.  And I had a side salad with light dressing.  I skipped the bread and alcohol that everyone else had.  I pointed out that it is frustrating to eat like that and still be the "fat" one in the family.  They told me that I will never lose weight eating like that.  NO lasagna.  NO cheese.  EVER.  I was told that even eating the salads that I often eat are BAD.  I have lettuce, tomato, deli chicken, about 6 croutons, and 2 Tbs of light balsamic vinaigrette.  NO croutons, my sister said.  Well what the hell.  Shouldn't I have SOME carbohydrates with my lunch?  I'll often have a bunch of grapes or an apple for a snack either in the morning or afternoon.  Again, BAD. Sugar!  As another snack I'll often have some cottage cheese and some cut up peaches mixed together.  Again, bad. CHEESE!  EVIL!  Can't ever have it.  Dessert?  Don't even think about it.  One cookie and you are destined to be fat forever.  Don't expect to lose a single pound.  According to their ideas, it seems I can only eat baked chicken and broccoli.

I contest that you cannot live that way.  That is not a long term, healthy, solution.  You need variety.  You should be able to eat a small portion of lasagna every now and then for dinner.  You should be able to have a little cup of cottage cheese as a snack every now and then.   Fruit is good for you and perfectly acceptable to eat in moderation, like everything else.  You should be able to eat these things in moderation and still maintain a perfectly reasonable and healthy weight.  In my head I believe that any nutritionist would agree with me.  Hard to say for sure if I am right or not.  Their argument is that they are thin and I am not so they obviously know what they are talking about and I don't.  My significantly taller sister weighs 113 pounds.  I currently weigh 133.  It is hard to argue with that.

One thing we did agree on is that it is good to eat smaller portions throughout the day.

So are my sisters totally crazy or am I?  What is your personal philosophy?  What works for you?

Diamonds are a girls best friend

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180775203_MV_PD_JAR.jpgI received some really amazing things that I really love for Christmas this year.  A swarovski crystal snowflake ornament, a painted side table with drawers and lamp for the guest bedroom, a wii game, a hallmark ornament, flannel pajamas, a vera bradley purse, etc.  And, 14 K yellow gold 1/4 carat t.w. diamond hoop earrings.  The Boy and I usually do not go all out on buying each other gifts.  We usually spend only a modest amount.  This is true for Christmas, birthdays, Valentine's Day, etc.  This year though, The Boy surprised me with a bunch of lovely gifts plus an over-the-top pair of earrings.  They are absolutely gorgeous.  I was stunned when I opened the large box to find a small jewelry box inside.  When I opened the smaller box I was speechless.  "Go put them on!" he ordered.  So I obliged.  They are perfect.  Exactly what I wanted, without even knowing I wanted them.  He did a wonderful job and these are most definitely something I will cherish forever.  It means a lot that he wanted to surprise me with something like this.  He did not expect anything in return.  It was enough for him just to see me so happy.

I had a very merry Christmas, indeed.  I hope you did, too.

How did you spend your holidays?  What was your favorite gift?

Merry Christmas

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Feliz Navidad.  Joyeux Noel.  Frohe Weihnachten.

The Christmas Spirit

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I read a great little story that, in my mind, beautifully encapsulates the true spirit of Christmas.  You can read the same story over at Rude Cactus.

I have my own little story I'd like to share, although it is not exactly Christmas related.  It is about giving and generosity, though.

Last Thursday I came home from work, pulled the car in the garage, went into the house, started removing my boots and coat and then heard a horrible crashing sound come from the garage.  I went out and took a look.  At first I didn't see anything wrong.  After a minute or two I noticed a large, rusty spring laying on the garage floor next to the car.  I looked up and saw that one half of the garage door track was broken.  A wire had snapped, the spring had broken, and the pulley system was all out of whack.  I then checked out the car, expecting to see a huge dent somewhere but found nothing.  I tied opening the door and to my amazement, it somehow still opened and closed. 

I did not have the energy to deal with this on Friday.  I figured I would deal with it on Monday morning.  On Sunday The Boy mentioned my most recent housing woe to his dad, who immediately offered to come over to fix it for me.  Sunday evening before dinner they stopped at Lowes to grab the necessary parts and headed over.  The Boy's father amazes me with his handyman abilities.  He knew exactly what he needed to get before even looking at my garage.  He needed no instructions whatsoever on how to hook everything up.  He just dove right in as if he did this type of job every day.  This is just a hobby for him and not at all related to what he does for his day job.  He was done in probably 45 minutes.  The garage door now works better than it ever has. 

So to thank The Boy's dad for his kindness and generosity I thought it would be nice to bake him some cookies.  So on Monday afternoon I went to the store to get what I needed for the cookies, and baked.  The cookies came out awful.  Every batch was  either underdone or overdone. Now, I am not a great baker by any means, but these were the worst cookies by far that I have ever made.  I was so disheartened.  I was so disappointed and had no idea what else to do to thank The Boy's dad.  The Boy inspected the cookies on Tuesday morning and started picking out the ones he thought looked decent.  I added a thank you to the Christmas card I had for the parents, and The Boy took that plus the small gift I bought for them and about 20 cookies home with him.  I was so embarrassed about the cookies and instructed The Boy to inform his parents that I normally make much better cookies and that the dying oven was at least partially to blame.  It's the thought that counts, right?

A previous, much more successful, attempt at baking cookies

Things I Love: Letter 'M' Edition

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I found a fun little meme over at Dawn's blog and thought I would play along. 

Here is how it works:
1.  Post a comment on this entry if you want to play along and I will assign you a letter.
2.  Make a post similar to this one listing ten things you love that begin with the letter you were assigned.
3.  Assign a letter to anyone who comments on your post and assign each of them a letter.
4.  Around and around she goes.

Dawn assigned me the letter M.  I would have though it would be a fairly easy letter to do, but I did struggle a bit to come up with 10 things.  My list, in no particular order, is:

1.  M&Ms.  Definitely one of my favorite candies.  I love the dark chocolate the best, but the milk chocolate are awesome too.  Right up there with Twix and Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.

2.  Mail.  I love getting things in the mail.  Well, everything except for the bills and the junk mail.  Cards and packages are the best.  I love getting Emails from friends or from people visiting my blog.  I love sending things in the mail to other people too.

3.  Make-up.  It is really nice to be able to hide those dark circles, lengthen your eye-lashes, and even out your skin tone.  It only takes a couple of minutes and it makes a huge difference.  I use Prescriptives all skins mineral makeup powder/foundation and Prescriptives Here To Stay mascara.

4.  Malteses.  I'd really like to get a dog.  These guys may be a tad on the small side but they are so darn cute, hypoallergenic, and generally well behaved. 

5.  Macintosh Apples.  I eat one of these almost daily.  You know, to keep the doctor away.

A Haiku About Snow

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catch a flake as it
falls in silent reverie;
ice cold to the touch


Snow/Sick Day

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7:00 AM

Alarm goes off.  Wake up and discover that I am not feeling very well.

7:30 AM

Still not feeling well but manage to get out of bed.  Look outside and see there is no snow (recalling the 9 inches predicted for the day).

7:35-8:00 AM

Shower, dress, finish getting ready.

8:20 AM

Starts snowing heavily.

8:30 AM

Head out of the house and down the street a little ways. 

8:32 AM

Have panic attack, turn the car around and head back home.  I do not feel well and it is not worth it.  Can always still log in and do work from home.

8:40 AM

Try to log in to system to let boss know I will not be in.  Access Denied.  Login access was still down from maintenance from the night before.

8:45 AM

Email boss saying I am taking a sick day.  Go lie down in bed.

10:30 AM

Check work e-mail.  Everyone is told to go home at noon.  Snow Day!  Well, half of one anyway.

It is now after 3:00.  I suppose I better get out and start shoveling the several inches that has already fallen.  Eh, maybe when I am feeling a little better.

It is not often that you get a snow day as an adult.  It is even more rare to get one in December.  Where I grew up we had frequent snow days.  I can remember lying in bed in the morning, being glued to the radio station as they went through the list of delays and closings.  When I heard my school I would be so excited.  It's not quite the same as an adult, is it?

One For You, One For Me

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I have this problem.  When I go shopping for others, particularly Christmas shopping, I have this horrible tendency to want to purchase one of whatever I am buying for a friend of family member for myself as well.  Saturday I purchased a set of dishware from Bed Bath and Beyond for one of my younger sisters.  I really wanted to pick some up for myself as well.  I was thinking to myself, "My set is really old.  It was a gift and not exactly what I would have picked out myself."  Sunday I bought some cute little Christmas themed bowls from Christmas Tree Shops and really wanted some for myself too.  I was able to successfully resist the urge in both cases.... for now.

I feel incredibly selfish.  I'm not the only one like this, am I?

photo from brungrrl

Not Pregnant

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funny-pictures-sad-cat-blackandwhite.jpgYesterday I wanted to leave work half way through the day, go home, curl up alone in bed, and just lay there until at least the next morning.


Because someone showed me a picture.  An ultrasound picture.  Yes, I know this is not an appropriate or normal reaction.

My friend is going to be a father... of twins.  His wife is 8 weeks along.  He was so happy to share the news.  He could not wipe the humongous grin off of his face.  He was downright giddy.  More giddy that I ever thought any man could be.  So of course I am extremely happy for him.  I know he has been wanting kids for a really long time.  He is a great guy and will make a wonderful dad. 

It feels as though everyone around me is having a baby.  It feels as though the universe is rubbing it in my face that I will never have a biological child of my own.  Multiple bloggers I read are expecting or just had a baby.  A close friend is due on April 1st.  The D.J. I listen to in the morning is pregnant.  Even the lady they had on the radio show this morning is pregnant.

Luckily, I was able to pull myself together yesterday and made it through the entire work day.  I only let the happy side show through and tucked away the depressed, angry, bitter side.  I am, apparently, letting that side rear its ugly head now.  I really hate that such wonderful news can have such a negative impact on me. 

It is tough being thirty and infertile, internets.  It is tough.

And the winner is...

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Congratulations!  Please go check out her site.  It's definitely worth a visit.  Nicely put together and it will get you in the Christmas spirit as well if you search through all her December posts. 

Jumble Contest

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In the spirit of the Holidays, I decided to do a little contest.  The winner will receive a $10 gift TRM35933.jpgcard from  All you have to do is unscramble the 6 words below.  Then take the bold letters from each scrambled word and unscramble them to finish the pun.


To write with a broken pencil is __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __.

The first person to comment with the correct answer will get the prize.  Simple, right?  I'll post another entry with the name of the winner as soon as someone correctly completes the puzzle.  I'll leave the contest open until 11:59 PM on Sunday night (12/21).

I am hoping that even though there will only be one winner, lots of people will be able to enjoy the puzzle.  Have fun!

TLC: I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant

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I just watched a show on TLC called I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant.  My parents left a little while ago, I was too tired to clean up the house, or do much of anything, so I went a laid on the couch and turned on the television. I was in need of some vegging time after the whirlwind of company and shopping. 

I was going through the guide and stumbled upon this show.  The title immediately grabbed my attention and I tuned in.  I think my jaw was on the floor the entire time.  They shared the stories of 4 different women who were pregnant, and had no idea until moment before giving birth.

1 had false positives on 2 home pregnancy tests and had no symptoms.  One had not had a menstrual cycle in 14 years.  One woman gave birth to TWINS.  The husband of one of the women was actually pulled over by the cops for speeding on the way to the hospital.  By the time they had finished questioning him and let him go see his wife, she had already given birth.  Most of these babies were big, too.  7 and 8 pounders.  Incredibly, not one of these woman drank or smoked during their unknown pregnancy.  It totally and completely boggles my mind how this can happen.  With every pregnant woman I have known it has been incredibly obvious to the pregnant woman, as well as anyone else around her, that she is in fact growing new life inside of her. 

My grandmother gave birth to two sons in early 1947.  She knew she was pregnant, but was only expecting one baby.  My father was a complete surprise.  This, I can understand.  It was 1947.  Medical technology was not anywhere near what it is today.  An incredibly shocking surprise for my grandparents, yes, but one that I can wrap my head around.  I can comprehend how that happened.  I am still working on comprehending how some women could not know their bodies were going through such tremendous change.  How can some women's bodies have such drastically different pregnancies?  How can there be NO symptoms for some when most women have such a wide array of them?

I don't even know how one would deal with being given no advance warning whatsoever for such an incredibly life-altering event.  I guess you just find some way, because you have to.


Webisode: You can check out a clip of a young 21 year old woman's story here.

FYI:  If you take antibiotics while on the pill, it could make the pills less effective.  Good to know!

'Restful' Vacation Day

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I was on vacation today, but my alarm went off at the usual time...


The plumber was here before 9 AM this morning.  He stayed for about 5 minutes.  Apparently I need a new toilet in the downstairs bathroom.  Yay. 


After that I wrapped a few gifts -- 4 to be exact.


In the late afternoon The Boy (who also took the day off) and I did some Christmas shopping.  I think the immediate family is done now.  I still want to buy one more thing for The Boy but I don't know what that thing is yet. 


After shopping I started playing around on  I was going to get some family pictures together and have them sent in a little package to my grandparents.  As I was clicking around I discovered that they allow you to create your own digital albums -- think scrapbook but the pictures are printed right on the page -- for only $20 or so.  So I decided to create a digital album instead.  It took quite a while finding pictures, arranging them, writing captions, etc., but it was well worth the time.  I definitely need to make more of these.


My parents are coming for a visit tomorrow.  I am very excited about this.  I am looking forward to shopping with mom.    However, this also means that the house needs to be cleaned from top to bottom.  On the phone they claim that it is perfectly fine if the house isn't spotless.  Doesn't bother them a bit!  But then they get here and it's a slightly different story.  There is one spec on the bathroom sink and mom is all, "The bathroom sink is dirty!  Where are the cleaning supplies?!"  The Boy and I went out to dinner but then I had to pass on the movie that he and two of our friends wanted to see tonight in order to get the house clean. 


Of course I still had to fit this in  :)

This is really where I would rather spend my vacation days...

What do you typically do on a vacation day?  Anyone else have similar issues when the parents come to visit?

The Ring

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For my 28th birthday my grandmother gave me a sapphire and diamond ring.  It is a ring that my grandfather bought for her years ago.  It's absolutely beautiful, and I love it.  It is one of my favorite possessions.  It was too big so I had it re-sized.  I don't remember the exact measurement but I think the guy told me I was a 4 3/4 or 5.  I thought it was too small, but he insisted since it was a heavy ring and it would slide around if it were any bigger, that this was the right size.  I still thought it was too small, but figured the guy, a professional, knew what he was doing.  I would wear it, but was a little afraid to.  There were certain times that I couldn't take it off, and I didn't wear it in the hot weather.   

I haven't worn the ring lately because now there is no question that it didn't fit.  It wouldn't go over the knuckle.  At all.  I have gained a little bit of weight since early this year, which I am guessing is probably at least part of the reason.  Well, two nights ago  the ring I normally wear was feeling extra loose so I decided to pick the ring from my grandmother up off my dresser and put it on.  It was tight, but it went on without too much issue.  The Boy asked me to take it off so he could get a closer look.  It came off with just a bit of tugging.

When I tried to take it off before bed it wouldn't budge.  So I figured my hands were just swollen and would eventually go back down.  When l woke up, still swollen.  Later in the morning, still swollen.  Lunch time, still swollen.  6:00p, still swollen.  I started to freak out.  I tried everything I could think of to get it off.  I tried soap and cold water.  I tried ice.  I tried hand lotion.  I tried holding my hand over my head for a while.  I tried turning off the heat and taking off my sweater.  Would.  Not.  Budge.  I sent panic messages to my mom and The Boy.  Mom had no additional suggestions.  The Boy sent me a link to a web site with a solution to my problem that I never could have imagined.  What was the magic answer?  Dental floss!  Yes, dental floss.  

Check it out:

It's a pretty ring, no? 

Leaky Roof -- Part II

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I guess I spoke too soon when I was raving about how easy and smoothly everything went in terms of getting the leaky roof fixed.

They called me back immediately!

It was fixed that afternoon!

It was a totally reasonable price!

I am, again, working from home this afternoon.  As I was putting my jacket and boots on to leave this morning I heard the all too familiar sound... drip... drip...

So I took off my jacket, and got out the business card he left me, and dialed the number.  It was about 8:40 or so at this point.  The lady on the other end seemed very pleasant and the sound in her voice made me believe she was going to get the issue resolved as soon as possible. 

I emailed my boss, telling him I would be working form home this morning. (aside: the boss replied with a simple "ok".  hard to tell if he is annoyed or not.  hopefully not.  not my fault!)  11:30 rolled around.  No phone call.  I got a little worried but was wondering if I was just being impatient.  I asked The Boy if I should call again, and if I should call the company phone again or his cell phone number, which was also on the business card.  He said to call again.  I got sucked into some work stuff and then suddenly it was after noon and I still hadn't called.   I figured I'd give them a little more time and wait until after lunch.

I just called again at 2:00 (the company number) and the guy said the guy who first came out last time was "in a meeting" but should be out shortly.  He said he would contact him again and have James come back out.  I asked when and he said hopefully sometime this afternoon.

In other bright house news, I think I also need a new oven!  We cooked a pizza in it the other night and it totally burn the crap out of it.  I put it on the correct temperature.  I set the time for 20 minutes (the box said 27-32).  After 17.5 minutes The Boy jumps up and says, "That doesn't smell good."  We go into the kitchen to find it rapidly filling with smoke.  WTH? 

The oven is very old and it came with the house.  I am thankful I've been able to get along with it for this long and didn't have to include a new oven with the down-payment and other appliance and furniture costs.  I think now, though, I may need to invest in a new one.  Also, need to buy another smoke detector.

Anyway, so to sum up my end of the week:
Wednesday: Roofer
Thursday: Chimney Sweep
Friday: Plumber


Things I Love: Winter Edition

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1.  Hot Chocolate

The other night after dinner a friend wanted to stop at Starbucks and get some coffee to keep himself awake.  I don't drink coffee, but I immediately had an intense craving for a cup of hot chocolate.  It tasted absolutely wonderful.  Really, is there anything better than coming in from the cold and having a nice steaming cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream or marshmallows?  I think not.

2.  Warm, Comfortable Footwear

I bought a really cute (in my opinion) pair of boots for $20 at Target the other day.  They are Ugg knock-offs and SO warm and comfortable.  So much better than wearing heels.

boots from target

3.  Fleece Jackets and Comfortable Sweatshirts

I could wear these every day of the week.  It feels like being engulfed in a big bear hug, isn't it?

4.  Fireplace Fires

There's not much else like the warmth and ambiance from a nice winter fire.

5.  Cuddling with Significant Other

I love to cuddle, and the cold winter temperatures gives me a great excuse to do so.

6.  Comfort Food/Crock Pot

Nice casserole in the oven.  Hot easy meal in the crock pot.  Very easy, tastes great, and extremely satisfying.  I love a good bowl of hot Chicken Noodle or Tomato Garden soup.  Mmmm.... lasagna.

7.  The Holidays

Spending time with family.  Seeing all the pretty lights and decorations while driving around at night.

8.  Lack of Yardwork

My weekends can be used for something other than weeding the garden, planting, digging, mowing the lawn, etc

9.  Heated Seats

The Boy just bought a new Acura this past summer.  My body does not deal well with really cold temperatures, but at least my butt is now kept warm while in his car :) 

10.  EMS Wool Socks

My older sister introduced me to these last year.  I bought 4 pair to try them out and loved them.  They are expensive but, to me, they are worth the money.  They do an excellent job at keeping my feetsies warm.  :)

 EMS Wool SocksEMS Wool Socks

Related Posts:
Things I Love: Food Edition
Things I Love: Letter 'M' Edition

What Makes a Good Blog?

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Since I started this blog I have tried to research different ways I can make it worthwhile, and a site that people will want to come back to. 

Currently, I am struggling with "How often should I post?" and "What topics should I write about?  Shouldn't I have more of a focus?"

Ben Barden over at addresses both of these issues here and here.  A worthwhile read, I believe, if you are a new blogger struggling with these same issues.

Right now this is essentially a "personal blog" so it covers pretty much anything and everything striking me at any given moment.  It seems to be getting a little out of control in terms of the various directions it could take.  I could make it and Entertainment/Celebrity focused blog... or maybe a food blog, or maybe a grammar blog.  Is it supposed to just be a place for people to get a little entertainment, allowing people to laugh both with and at me?  Is it supposed to be a place for random, useful tips and information?  My original intent was to have it personal, but focus on issues that are important to people, particularly women, as they make their way through their thirties.  I can't seem to come up with the best way to do that.

I joined NaBloPoMo, a challenge to post every day in the month of November, since it seemed like a fun little community.  I thought it would be good and helpful for me to quickly increase the number of posts I have.  I have tried, for the most part, to take time and post worthwhile entries.  I am not sure how well I accomplished that goal, though. 

So, suggestions anyone?  What sites do you check out on a regular basis?  What keeps you coming back?  Do you get frustrated when you check out a site every few days and find there's no new content or would you rather wait until the author has a better entry pieced together?  Do you like variety or a well-focused site?

Christmas Shopping Dilemmas

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Last night The Boy and I went out to dinner with a couple of friends.  For a while the discussion was centered around Christmas shopping.  Who to buy for?  How much to spend?

One friend has a fairly complicated family and he wasn't sure who he should be buying gifts for.  His mom and dad were givens.  As were his 2 sisters and his sister's daughter.  Those were the easy ones.  But what about the mom's boyfriend?  The mom's boyfriend's son and grandchildren?  The step-mom?  Does it depend on who he is going to see at the Christmas gathering? 

It's always awkward when someone you did not expect to buy you a gift suddenly hands one to you and you have nothing to give them in return, isn't it?

My two personal shopping dilemmas are:

  1. What do I buy The Boy's parents?  How far into the relationship is it proper to buy them something?  How much do I spend on them?  What is appropriate?  Do I buy a separate gift for each, or one joint gift? After some discussion The Boy revealed that they have these 2 really nice coffee mugs that they absolutely love.  They use them for coffee, and soup, etc and everything stays really warm.  They've tried various methods of distinguishing "his" from "hers" and also attempted to replace/increase the collection.  So I thought I'd try to find some really nice mugs and have each one engraved with their names on them.  Hopefully this problem is solved.
  2. My sisters would like to all go in on a gift for mom and a gift for dad.  I don't know the final amount yet, but I agreed to chip in with them and figured I would also get my parents a little something extra.  Two of my sisters are a bit younger and still in graduate school (i.e. don't have much money to spend on gifts).  I have an older sister who makes more than I do and has plenty to spend on gifts.  I sort of assumed that my older sister and I would get something for them in addition to the group gift.  My youngest sister got a little upset and said I should not buy anything extra.  I asked the older sister and she is not buying them anything extra. 

Make A Child Smile

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Sometimes I catch myself being very self-absorbed and only concentrate on my little world.  I lose the big picture.

I get all "life's not fair" and whine and complain about my relatively small and insignificant problems.  I concentrate on the things I don't have, rather than on the things I do.

Really, my life is pretty great.  I am in a good financial position.  I have an excellent job.  I have some health issues, but nothing terribly major.  I have a wonderful family and boyfriend who all love and care for me.  Not everyone has these things, and I need to remind myself of that. 

The following link shows 3 young children who, along with their families, are going through a terribly trying time.  I plan to make a card to send to one of the children to hopefully brighten their day.

Check it out:

Google Analytics

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I started using google analytics a couple of weeks ago.  It has a lot of cool features.  You can view all the usual stuff such as:

  • Number of visits
  • Absolute Unique Visitors
  • Page Views
  • Amount of time each visitor stays
  • Browsers visitors use
  • Bounce Rate
  • Which pages are hit
  • Traffic Sources (direct traffic, referring sites, search engines)
Some of the cooler items:

A couple of my favorite features are the Site Overlay and the Map Overlay.  The Site Overlay shows you your page with an overlay of how many times each link or image is clicked.  The map overlay shows you a map of the wold and highlights the different areas where your visitors are from.  You can drill down and even see which cities your visitors are in.  I love logging in and seeing a new area highlighted

You can also export any report to PDF, XML, CSV, or TSV (I have no idea what TSV is).

You can add filters to exclude certain data from being recorded.  For example, you can filter out your own IP address so your hits will not skew your data.

Configurable Dashboard so you can add all important information/reports you care about conveniently right on the front page. 

You can schedule GA to email you any of the reports or the dashboard.

Another goodie, which I haven't yet had the opportunity to try out, is internal search stats.  Apparently if you have a search box on your site you can see what was typed into the search box as well as what linked what clicked from the search results.  

If you are a blogger and not using it already, it's definitely worth checking out.

Babble, Babble

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I really have nothing for you today, internets, but I signed up for another month of NaBloPoMo so here I am.  Maybe I will get a few more hits this months.  Or maybe even a couple of comments.  Maybe?

I am tired.  The roof leaking fiasco that occurred Sunday/Monday seems like weeks ago.  Not that much has happened, time just seems to be dragging. 

The best I can come up with right now is a random list of items from my life this week:

  • Two Christmas gifts that I ordered for people arrived today.
  • I got an email today that two other items I purchased are at the store and ready for pick-up.
  • Survived the dentist on Tuesday.
  • Survived the eye doctor this evening.  I had my eyes dilated at 6pm and it is now past 11pm and my left eye is STILL dilated.  And a little painful.
  • I survived the kick-off meeting of a big project that I am co-lead on at work.
  • I need to buy more Christmas gifts for people this weekend.
  • I need to wrap the Christmas gifts that I have already bought this weekend.
  • I need to buy shades to replace the blinds in the bedrooms this weekend.
  • I need to start on the craft projects this weekend.
  • Last night I went through a ton of my digital pics and ordered 26 of them on snapfish.  20 4x6's and 6 8x10's.  I have this picture in my head of me framing some of the larger pictures and displaying them in my house.
  • The 20 4x6's cost just over a dollar.  I got 7 free prints, as well as free shipping.  The 6 8x10's brought the total to $20.  Yikes.
  • Today I got an email that they were processed already and would be shipped tomorrow.


Sweet Dreams

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I have not slept well, or much at all, for the last 3 nights.  It's definitely starting to catch up with me.  I've been averaging about 4.5 hours of sleep a night.  That is not nearly enough for my thirty year old self.

Last night was pretty awful.  I laid awake for hours.  Then when I finally fell asleep I started having terrible nightmares.  I'd wake up from a nightmare, fall back asleep, then have another nightmare.  This went on until 7am when I finally got up.  In each nightmare I was being attacked/killed in some horrible manor.  In at least one The Boyfriend was attacked with me.  The only one I remember now is being attacked by a vicious chipmunk.  Yes, a chipmunk.  A chipmunk with large, sharp teeth.  A chipmunk that was more like a raccoon in size.

I intend to head to bed in the next thirty minutes.  Who do I need to speak with about getting 8 solid hours of deep, restful, uninterrupted sleep?

Also,  I did not win anything from the NaBloPoMo Challenge.  I faithfully posted every single day but did not win one of the 40 prizes.  Boo.

Merry Christmas To Me

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Last night I went to the Verizon store.  I purchased the LG Dare at half price and upgraded my plan to unlimited data and 450 voice minutes.  The plan cost me $69.99.

We went to the store, checked out the phone in person, fell in love with phone and decided to purchase after about 5 minutes.  So I went up to the woman at the counter and said I'd like to purchase the phone.  Then she said I'd have to upgrade my plan.  I said sure, upgrade me to the unlimited data, 450 voice minutes for $69.99.  The rest of the conversation went as such:

Verizon Woman: Sure.  I can do that.  Oh, wait.  That plan is $79.99.

Me:  It is?  It was 69.99 the other day when I went through to upgrade my plan and phone online.

Verizon Woman
:  Nope.  I've never heard of that plan.  It's $79.99.  It's the same online.

:  I swear it was 69.99.

Verizon Woman
:  Nope.  See here in this brochure?  $79.99.

:  :(  *walks away from woman and closer to boyfriend*

: Well, let's go and investigate and then come back.

:  But I want my phone now!

Verizon Woman
:  You can use the computer over there if you'd like to check.  It's going to be the same as the brochure here though.

:  :)  *Runs to computer to log in to my verizon account*

: 'My Account' is Temporarily Unavailable

:  What?!  *Tries again*

A few minutes later after logging in...

Verizon Woman
:  So did you find anything?

Me:  Yup!  Come see!

Verizon Woman
:  Ohhh!  THAT plan.  Yes, that is brand new last week.  I forgot about it.  Sorry!

:  Uh huh.  

So I ended up leaving a happy camper with my expensive new phone in hand. 

Oy Vey

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Last night around 9p I came upstairs from putting laundry in the dryer, was standing in the kitchen, and then heard drip... drip... drip. 

I found that it was coming from the frame around one of the skylights in the kitchen.  So I put a pot under the leak and then thought, "uh, ok, now what do I do?". 

Well, I called Dad.  I mostly just wanted reassurance that it would be ok to leave it until the morning.  He agreed that it should be ok.  It was only dripping once every 2 or 3 seconds.  He had me open and close the skylight just in case somehow it was slightly open.  That wasn't the problem.  He said to leave it and call a roofer in the morning.

So after I got ready for work I called the Client Perks number my realtor gave me when I bought the house.  Client Perks is this little thing where you call the number, a lovely lady answers asking what you need, and then has someone (plumber, roofer, electrician, whoever you are looking for) call you back.  They have a list of people who come highly recommended and usually give you a discount.  I had a roofer call me back in about 10 minutes.  It's really a pretty sweet deal that I got through Nothnagle when I used one of their realtors to buy my house.

Anyway... I was a little anxous about the leak as well as my insurance forms that were due today (I still had no idea which plan to choose) so when I finally went to bed around midnight I couldn't sleep and all I could hear was drip... drip... drip.  Around 1am I began to hear another drip, that seemed to be a new drip since it did not have the distinct sound of dripping into a pot.  So I got up to investigate and found there was ANOTHER leak.   It was coming from another corner of the same skylight.  I got another pot and tried to get some sleep, finally dozing off around 2am.

I talked to the roofer around 9am this morning and he said he would call me in the afternoon and stop over.  Great, I thought.  I'll go into work for the morning and then work from home in the afternoon.  I get to work, struggle with the insurance forms, and then he calls me at 10am.   

Roofer: I am ready to head over now, ok?
Me: Well, I didn't think you'd be coming until this afternoon so I decided to head in to work.  I can be home in about 15 minutes though if that works.

When I arrived home the guy had already been on my roof and taken pictures of the problem areas.  He reviewed them with me and said he could do the work for $275.  I had no idea if that was a reasonable price or not.  But it didn't sound like a whole lot of money and he wasn't suggesting I replace the entire roof or anything so I said I'd like to have him do it.  He said he'd either be back this afternoon or come back on Wednesday, depending on the weather, to do the work. 

I really hope he comes back this afternoon.  It's expected to rain but so far it has held off.  The sky is looking fairly ominous at the moment though.  I decided to work from home for the rest of the day, just in case.  Way to ease back into work after an extended Thanksgiving vacation.  :)

UPDATE!  Roof man came at 2:15p.  He was done by 4:05p.  I am $275 poorer right now, but my roof is not leaking!

About This Blog

Stories, advice, and random thoughts from a thirty-something female.

Many people in their thirties are dealing with common issues and concerns. Some of these include buying a home, establishing a career, starting a family, and dealing with aging parents. I will blog about all these things as well as other every day stuff as I make my way through this third decade of life.

You can read more about the author behind thirty-something blog on the About Me page.





About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2008 is the previous archive.

January 2009 is the next archive.

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